Reckless In Love
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The answering grin on his face was a real one. And it felt good. So good that when he turned to his fans, he barely felt like he was faking being Drew Morrison.
During the meet-and-greet, Ashley watched and learned and took notes on her tablet. Drew had never met anyone so focused on her purpose, and it only served to make her more attractive.
Clearly, he wasn’t the only one who thought so, because the venue manager wouldn’t stop interrupting her. Every time Drew looked in her direction, the guy was trying to get her attention. With a drink. Or a joke. Couldn’t he see that she was working? And why the hell wasn’t Max or James squashing the guy like a bug?
If she had looked at all irritated, Drew would have been over there in a millisecond with the guy pinned against the wall begging for mercy. But she wasn’t frowning. On the contrary, she was actually smiling a little, even laughing softly at one point.
Jealousy ate at Drew, taking big chunks of him in its jaws and grinding him into pieces. More distracted than ever, he barely stopped one of his more mature fans from yanking off her shirt in front of an eight-year-old girl. In fact, the woman already had her top more than halfway off when Ashley grabbed the little girl’s attention by asking if she wanted to put on a concert T-shirt and take a selfie with him.
Drew gestured for James to come deal with the woman, who had no business exposing herself in front of a kid, then turned and gave his full attention to the little girl. Afterward, he went to thank Ashley, but she was back in her corner where the venue manager had clearly been waiting for her so that he could hit on her some more.
Finally, he finished meeting his last VIP fan and headed over to her. Just in time to hear the guy say, “This has been a lot of fun, Ashley. Any chance I can get your number for the next time you’re in town?”
Before she could reply, Drew said, “You ready to head to the bus, Ash?”
Her surprised gaze shifted to Drew. He’d called her Ash out in the desert when he’d been talking about all the fire she had inside and how well it fit her. But tonight he’d deliberately said it in the most possessive way possible.
The venue manager put up his hands and took a step away from her. “Sorry, man. I didn’t realize she was taken.” In a really polite tone, he added, “Great show tonight, Drew. It will be our pleasure to have you back soon.” And then he was gone.
Ashley was frowning as she walked out of the room with Drew. A couple of minutes later they were back on the bus, James had wished them both a good night, and Drew had given Max the all-clear to head for Los Angeles.
“Taken? Did he actually think that you and I are...” Ashley shook her head as if the final word was too preposterous to even say aloud. “Together?”
“I’m pretty sure he did.” Drew knew he should probably feel a little guilty for helping the guy’s assumption along, but he didn’t. Not in the least. Not when that guy wasn’t good enough to touch even one hair on her head.
“Wait...does everyone think that you and I are together?”
“Maybe the guys at the airport did. And I fielded some questions at the radio stations about you.” And there had been more than a little speculation online that must have been put up there by the fans he’d met that morning. But he didn’t think Ashley needed to know about what people posted on the Internet. Hell, none of them did. “But the guys in the band and the crew know you aren’t.” Even so, he would place bets on the fact that most of them didn’t really believe Drew wasn’t going to sleep with her soon. Probably because only a total idiot would keep his distance from a woman like her.
“I suppose there aren’t a lot of researchers sharing tour buses with musicians, are there?”
“No, there aren’t.”
He knew he should stop there. Should call it a night. Should turn and walk away and lock himself in his bedroom. Should put enough space between them that he could remember why he needed to make sure they never became anything more than friends.
But he couldn’t do it, couldn’t lie to her anymore the way he’d been lying to everyone else.
“They’re not totally wrong, Ash. Not about how much I want to kiss you.”
If she’d looked surprised by the realization that people thought they were together, now she looked as though someone had just told her the earth had been scientifically proven to be flat.
It was the last response he would ever have expected. And yet, at the same time, it was exactly the right one. Because Ashley wasn’t like anyone else. And just because he’d told her he wanted to kiss her, didn’t mean she’d jump into his arms like all the women at his show tonight would have.
Instead, she’d do what he already understood was her way of dealing with everything she wanted to understand better—she’d try to dissect and analyze what was actually going on.
Only, he didn’t want to let her dissect anything at all when it came to them. He wanted her to feel it, to be as overwhelmed by it as he was already.
“I want to kiss you.” He knew he should be putting more space between them, rather than closing it by taking a step closer, but where Ashley was concerned, his rational brain was always a step behind. “I’ve wanted to kiss you from the first moment we met. And I’ve wanted to kiss you dozens of times in the past twenty-four hours. I know I’m probably totally freaking you out, and I swear I’m not trying to scare you away. I’m trying like hell to keep my promise to be a complete gentleman with you. I just can’t lie to you about what I’m feeling.”